All roster percentages cited below are based on Devin Knotts’ projections which are refined and updated throughout the week. Click here or use our Lineup Optimizer to make sure you are using the latest projections before setting your lineups.
KNOW YOUR ENEMIES
If you want to finish at the top of the standings in a mid-to-large field GPP, your roster has to stand out from the crowd. Studying a list of projected roster percentages is a helpful first step, but it lacks the context of how the most popular players fit together under the salary cap.
To gain some insight into how the majority of entrants will allocate their cap space, so you can spend yours differently, let’s think about how the public is most likely to attack roster construction at each position.
Perhaps Carson Wentz ($5,900) draws a significant roster percentage in a home matchup against Jacksonville, but otherwise, the crowd is spending up at quarterback. Josh Allen ($7,900), Dak Prescott ($6,900), Justin Herbert ($7,300), and Tom Brady ($7,600) will share popularity in the top salary tier, with Prescott most likely to lead the pack due to his lower cost and the lure of Atlanta’s dismal defense.
Flip the Build: Taking a contrarian approach to roster construction at quarterback is not for the faint of heart this week (and is probably not necessary). If you want to spend down, you can build vomit stacks around Ben Roethlisberger ($5,600) and Taylor Heinicke ($5,400), each of whom has the implied game script and surrounding talent necessary to reach their respective ceilings. Low-rostered quarterbacks with high enough implied team totals to consider include Ryan Tannehill ($6,200) and Kirk Cousins ($6,100).
A nasty case of COVID spread throughout the Browns running back room but appears to have spared D'Ernest Johnson ($4,700), who is this week’s free square at the position. The majority of entrants will use the spare cap room created by rostering Johnson to splurge on a high-end RB1. Najee Harris ($7,900), Austin Ekeler ($7,600), and Jonathan Taylor ($8,100) will be popular as a result, though Ezekiel Elliott ($7,000), Cordarrelle Patterson ($6,600), and James Conner ($6,600) could show up often in chalky lineups as well.
Flip the Build: The final injury report will determine how best to approach the position from a roster construction standpoint. Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Zack Moss are each in the concussion protocol, and Alvin Kamara is dealing with a murky knee injury. If Brandon Bolden ($4,400), Devin Singletary ($4,700), and/or Mark Ingram II ($4,500) join Johnson as viable RB2s at sub-$5K, it’s a safe bet we’ll see a cheap running back used in the flex, enabling heavy spending at quarterback and all three receiver slots. If that is the case, there will be an advantage in spending up at RB2, where Dalvin Cook ($8,000), Aaron Jones ($6,900), and Leonard Fournette ($6,100) are going somewhat overlooked.
No matter what happens at running back, the crowd will find room for Davante Adams ($7,900) provided Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play. If more running back value fails to materialize, the stock builds you’ll be competing against are likely to spend moderately at the remaining receiver slots. Cole Beasley ($5,200), Amari Cooper ($6,200), and Michael Pittman Jr ($6,300) stand out as crowd favorites. We’ll also have to keep an eye on Chris Godwin’s status. If it’s clear Godwin will be out or limited with his foot injury, Mike Evans ($6,900) and Tyler Johnson ($3,300) will climb near the top of the roster percentage charts.
Flip the Build: The Seahawks and Vikings each have a pair of top-flight wide receivers who will go underappreciated in potentially high-scoring games. While Cook hogging the Vikings offensive production could hamstring Justin Jefferson ($7,700) and Adam Thielen ($6,700), D.K. Metcalf ($6,800) and Tyler Lockett ($6,500) are in no such danger from Alex Collins. Seattle will get Russell Wilson back against a Green Bay pass defense that sorely misses cornerback Jaire Alexander.
If you thought the tight end position was a slog before, wait until you get a load of this week’s player pool. Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Mike Gesicki, George Kittle, and Darren Waller aren’t available on the main slate, leaving Kyle Pitts ($5,800), who has struggled in Calvin Ridley’s absence, as the only tight end worth paying up for. Expect the crowd to punt with Dan Arnold ($3,500) or Pat Freiermuth ($3,900).
Flip the Build: Noah Fant ($4,300) has been out-of-sight, out-of-mind for a couple of weeks. Jerry Jeudy’s return might cap his ceiling a bit, but at least Fant is facing an Eagles defense that has been picked apart by enemy tight ends all season.
CAN YOU TRUST THE CHALK?
The term chalk in sports betting refers to the heavily favored side of a bet. In DFS tournaments, these are the most popular players on the slate. Identifying and taking a stance on the chalk is an important part of tournament strategy. If you fade a chalky player, and he fails to deliver on his scoring projection, your lineups become positioned to pass a large chunk of the field in the standings. But when a player the crowd loves meets his lofty expectations and you choose to avoid him, your lineups can quickly get buried.
If you are entering multiple lineups, deciding whether to play or pass on chalky players is non-binary. The overall roster percentage of your lineup, how the player correlates to the rest of the lineup, and the size of the tournament you are entering all provide needed context.
Some suggestions on how to treat this week’s most popular players:
D'Ernest Johnson (@NE, $4,700, 43% rostered)
As of this writing, Nick Chubb, Demetric Felton, and John Kelly are unlikely to play due to COVID, and Kareem Hunt remains sidelined with a calf injury, leaving the Browns no choice but to saddle up Johnson as a workhorse on the road in New England. We saw Johnson do a fine Chubb impression the last time he was asked to shoulder the load (22-146-1 in Week 7 vs. DEN), and he’s once again positioned to approach or exceed 25 total touches. While Johnson is an automatic choice in cash games, his inflated projected roster percentage creates a more difficult decision in tournaments. Would Johnson score 20+ DraftKings points more than 43% of the time if this game were played 100 times? Given Cleveland’s run-first offensive identity and the Patriots’ middling rush defense, the answer is most likely yes. Push all in on Johnson in tournaments and beat your opponents elsewhere.
Davante Adams (vs. SEA, $7.900, 24% rostered)
Assuming the “small possibility” Aaron Rodgers misses this game fails to materialize, Adams is too easy to fit into lineups this week. Seattle’s defense has held enemy wideouts to 39% fewer fantasy points than the league average over their previous three games, but in those contests, they shut down the toothless passing attacks of the Steelers, Saints, and Jaguars. They have no one who can match up with Adams, who was last seen commanding 44% of Green Bay’s targets in last week’s loss to Kansas City. Without Cooper Kupp on the slate, Adams stands alone as the wide receiver you might need in your lineup to win a tournament if he reaches his ceiling. Adams is good chalk.
Dak Prescott (vs. ATL, $6,900, 14% rostered)
Prescott returned from a calf injury with a scary-bad performance at home against the Broncos in Week 2. Considering how well he’s played this season, we can probably attribute his disastrous 48% completion rate vs. Denver to knocking off the rust against a stiff defense. With the Cowboys at home, expected to win by double-digits, and implied to score a slate-high 31.75 points, you’ll want to build some Cowboys stacks around Prescott. Just be aware that the crowd has the same idea. If you’re multi-entering, play Prescott stacks in about 10% of your lineups, but leave him out if you only plan on entering a single lineup.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Josh Allen||QB||@NYJ||$7,900||15%||Get right spot for Allen. NYJ smoked by QBs since Week 5.|
|Tom Brady||QB||@WAS||$7,600||9%||30.5 point team total against dismal pass defense. Fresh off bye.|
|Najee Harris||RB||DET||$7,900||23%||Deserves high exposure. DET creamed by PHI on ground before bye.|
|Jonathan Taylor||RB||JAX||$8,100||17%||Expensive but highest ceiling RB on this slate.|
|Diontae Johnson||WR||DET||$6,800||19%||Claypool's absence gives him massive target projection.|
|Cole Beasley||WR||@NYJ||$5,200||17%||Keep playing him for as long as Dawson Knox is out.|
|Amari Cooper||WR||ATL||$6,200||16%||Flopped last week, but still cheap and matchup now in his favor.|
|Pat Freiermuth||TE||DET||$3,900||14%||Have to fade TD dependent option if he keeps picking up steam.|
|Tennessee Titans||DST||NO||$2,600||12%||We've seen enough of Trevor Siemian to know he's awful.|
You won’t necessarily be sneaking the players in this section past your opponents. But their roster rate and scoring projections are misaligned with the probability they can help you to a first-place finish. Play them at a higher rate than the field when multi-entering and consider them as pivot options off similarly-priced chalk plays if the overall roster percentage of your lineup is too high.
Leonard Fournette (@WAS, $6,100, 10% rostered)
Washington has allowed 30% more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the league average this season, including 21% more over the last five weeks. The crowd will play matchups and stack Tom Brady with Mike Evans (or Chris Godwin if he plays through foot injury), leaving Fournette under-exposed. If the game goes according to script (TB -9.5), the table is set for Fournette to carry the ball 20 times, in addition to the five targets per game he’s averaged since Week 4. Don’t hold Fournette’s 7.3-point Week 8 dud against him. The Saints are as difficult to run on as any team in the league and Tampa Bay was forced to abandon the run in a wonky road loss. Use him in hopes of ruining the party for Brady stacks, or use him alongside Brady to make your Tampa Bay stack more unique.
Tyler Lockett (@GB, $6,500, 9% rostered)
If you’re open to the possibility the returns of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson can force a shootout in Green Bay (O/U 49.5), Lockett makes sense as run-back in lineups that include Davante Adams. When we last saw Lockett before Seattle’s bye week, he posted a vintage stat line (13-12-141-0) against Jacksonville while catching passes from Geno Smith. The Packers’ secondary isn’t as fearsome with Jaire Alexander sidelined, and they’ve struggled in recent weeks to contain other speedy receivers who operate in all areas of the field, such as Ja'Marr Chase (10-6-159-1) and Terry McLaurin (12-7-122-1). Priced as though he’s still catching passes from Smith, Lockett is a stronger bet to reach GPP value than his projected roster percentage implies.
Dalvin Cook (@LAC, $8,000, 15% rostered)
Cook made news for all the wrong reasons this week, but he’s in no danger of league discipline headed into this week’s matchup against the Chargers. The negative press, a glut of attractive running back options in the $7K-$8K range, and Cook’s lack of week-winning performances in 2021 will shield him from the crowd in a terrific spot. Minnesota quietly has a solid 25-point implied total in the game with the week’s second-highest over/under (53 points), and the way to beat LA’s defense is on the ground. The Chargers have allowed the third-most PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs over the previous five weeks. In Week 9, they made washed-up plodder, Jordan Howard, look like the 2016 version of himself. Cook has a strong claim to be the player you can’t win without on this slate.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Ben Roethlisberger||QB||DET||$5,600||5%||His weapons will be popular but no one wants to play Ben.|
|Aaron Jones||RB||SEA||$6,900||10%||Leverage on Adams roster % vs. forgiving rush defense.|
|D'Andre Swift||RB||@SF||$6,800||9%||If all these Steelers hit, the game script sets up nicely for Swift.|
|DK Metcalf||WR||@GB||$6,800||10%||Always possible it's Metcalf instead of Lockett.|
|Justin Jefferson||WR||@LAC||$7,700||6%||OC wants to get him the ball more. Why wouldn't he?|
|Jarvis Landry||WR||@NE||$5,200||12%||Will hog whatever targets are available in CLE. Johnson leverage.|
|Dalton Schultz||TE||ATL||$5,000||6%||Lowest-rostered every-down Cowboy.|
|Cleveland Browns||DST||@NE||$2,800||5%||CLE D a big test for a rookie quarterback.|
These players are flying below the crowd’s collective radar and will therefore give you the greatest leverage on your opponents if they outperform expectations. Depending on the field size, it will usually take at least one or two players from this tier for your lineup to finish in the top one percent of GPP entries.
Keep in mind, however, that the path to success for these players is somewhat limited, or else they wouldn’t be contrarian. Using more than two together in the same lineup will come at the expense of maximizing projected fantasy points. And if you’re multi-entering, it doesn’t take much exposure for these players to gain you an edge on the field. A 5% rostered player only needs to appear in two out of 10 lineups to give you four times more exposure than your opponents.
Mo Alie-Cox (vs. JAX, $3,100, 3% rostered)
Tight end is a wasteland in Week 10, which makes it the perfect week to go full-contrarian. Alie-Cox is as risky as they come because he’s a part-time player and doesn’t command many targets, but he has plenty in his favor this week. The big man has exceeded a 60% snap-share in two out of his last three games and ran a route on a season-high 64% of Carson Wentz’s dropbacks in last week’s win over the Jets. With the Colts at home, favored by 10.5 points, and implied to score 28.75 points, this is a game environment to target for tight end touchdowns. Alie-Cox is tied for the team lead with three red-zone touchdowns this season.
Jerry Jeudy (vs. PHI, $5,300, 5% rostered)
Jeudy’s performances haven’t jumped out of the boxscore since he returned from a high ankle sprain in Week 8, but last week’s 8-6-69-0 receiving line against Dallas was a step in the right direction. Denver has slow-played Jeudy a bit, but he has been on the field for over 75% of Teddy Bridgewater’s dropbacks in both games, and last week’s eight targets were good for a massive 32% target share. With Jeudy’s sea legs now firmly back underneath him and Bridgewater forcing him the ball, we should start seeing more explosive plays in addition to the safe target floor. It’s easier to run on the Eagles than pass, but the neutral matchup shouldn’t hinder Jeudy’s continued ascent in Week 10.
Russell Wilson (@GB, $6,700, 3% rostered)
In fairness, Wilson doesn’t project well this week. He’ll have to shake off some rust in a hostile environment against a Packers defense that solved Patrick Mahomes II and Kyler Murray in each of their last two games. But Wilson is available at a season-low price and should end up sub-5% rostered. In a game that could easily go over its 49.5 point total, we’re getting too much of a salary discount to leave Wilson completely out of our plans if he’s going to add leverage to our lineups. Stack him with Lockett or Metcalf and run it back with Davante Adams.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Ryan Tannehill||QB||NO||$6,200||3%||TEN has no running game and you can't run on NO anyway.|
|J.D. McKissic||RB||TB||$5,200||4%||Would be shocking if he finishes with fewer than seven targets.|
|A.J. Green||WR||CAR||$4,600||4%||Clear WR1 assuming Hopkins misses.|
|James Washington||WR||DET||$3,500||5%||No Claypool puts him on the field a ton in plus-matchup.|
|Zach Pascal||WR||JAX||$4,500||3%||More leverage on Taylor/Pittman.|
|T.J. Hockenson||TE||@PIT||$5,500||5%||Might be highest upside TE on this slate outside of Pitts.|
|Denver Broncos||DST||PHI||$3,200||3%||Don't trust PHI offense on the road.|